Questions You Aren’t Supposed To Ask About ISIS:
#1 – Those Toyota Trucks
October 08, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - "Off-Guardian"
- SIS. Murky,
masked, terrifying Bad Guys. Islamic hardliners, doing unspeakably
ghastly things in faraway sandy places. A horde poised to be
unleashed on the innocent everywhere. They merge in the Jungian
western mind with race memories of the
other convenient boogey man from a previous and ultimately ill-fated
bid to make strategic conquest into a moral Crusade. Fear is the
message. And it works.
As with most official narratives, the ISIS trope
is left largely unexamined by mainstream media, while at the same
time being used as a major motivation for continued and increasing
war in the Middle East. Given the growing chaos in the region, now
spreading to Yemen, and the increasingly blurry role ISIS would
appear to be playing, as media fear-porn, war-provocateur and enemy
of western enemies, we’ve decided to do a short series asking some
of the largely un-addressed questions about these people, and who
may be offering them direct or indirect support.
The official story is
ISIS stole them from the “Good Terrorists”, (Al Nusra), who were
originally given their cool wheels by the US government. Which would
seem to beg a couple of enquiries. Not least of which is – why are
the US giving any terrorists matching fleets of luxury
SUVs? And for that matter, how many fleets are we talking about?
The bronze one?
The white-ish one without logos?
The white one with logos?
Or the silver and black one?
We note ISIS seems reluctant to mix and match its
various models. Though occasionally a rogue makes it through…
So, exactly how many trucks did the US supply?
Where are ISIS currently garaging this impressive collection? And
why do they all have to be Toyotas? Is it a terrorist thing, or
simply a US Govt preference? Do Toyota mind the brand-association?
Or the fact that so many of the ISIS drive-by photo-ops look like
perverted car ads?
Which brings us to a truck-related question:
Who takes the photos?
Specifically – who takes those PR style pics of
the matching fleets sailing by, replete with gun-toting, flag-waving
terrorists leaning out of every window? Are they just being caught
in transit by various opportunist photographers? Or are they
pre-planned drive-buys for the purpose of publicity?
If the former, then do ISIS travel everywhere like
that – with guys leaning out the windows holding massive ISIS flags?
Wouldn’t that slow them down and also make them really easy to
identify and take out?
If the latter – who is handling their publicity?
Did they make
Is it by any chance the same people who keep
giving them free cars?
Does ISIS really smuggle “$3M worth of oil”
into Turkey EVERY DAY?
Last summer, quoting either David Cohen, the “US
Treasury department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial
intelligence” or a statement from
Iraq Energy, a “non-profit policy Institute”, ISIS was suddenly
revealed by media storm to be bootlegging crude across the Turkish
border, and to be getting shockingly rich as a result. The media
reaction was intense and – as ever – unified. Claims were rarely
examined, sources rarely verified, amounts were often vague, but by
God the message was clear.
ISIS raking in cash: Extremists earn more than
$1 million a day…”
National Post October 23
…the ISIS–controlled oil market in Iraq…is
believed to be raising at least $2 million a day…”
CNN August 22
…ISIS Makes Up To $3 Million a Day Selling
ABC News August 2
…How ISIS makes up to $6M A DAY…
Newsweek Nov 6
ISIS raises $1 million a day selling crude oil
Daily Mail July 12
So incredibly successful were these terrorists at
harvesting, packing and exporting crude (not to mention a bit of
their own refining) that in no time it seemed they were worth
“$2 billion dollars” and climbing fast. The media outrage at all
this of course increased pressure on Washington to “do something”.
That something being, to no one’s great surprise, more air strikes,
this time aimed at the newfangled ISIS oil empire.
It’s timely to remember at this juncture that ISIS
was allegedly selling their crude at around
$20 – $40 a barrel, one third of the going rate at the time. At
this price they would need to be shipping around 100,000 barrels of
crude every day to be raking in the most extreme of these
astronomical sums. Even the most conservative figure of $1m per day
at the highest estimated rate of $40 a barrel would require shipping
20,000+ barrels. This is a very large quantity to be processing. How
were/are they doing it?
Detailed explanations are not easy to come by but
a broad narrative is offered. On Nov 14
the Guardian told its readers:
[ISIS] were quickly able to make [the captured
oil fields] operational and then tapped into established trading
networks across northern Iraq, where smuggling has been a fact
of life for years. From early July until late October, most of
this oil went to Iraqi Kurdistan. The self-proclaimed Islamic
caliphate sold oil to Kurdish traders at a major discount. From
Kurdistan, the oil was resold to Turkish and Iranian traders.
And what form of transport are they using to move
this cargo? Tanker trucks apparently. And not just a few of them.
Chatham House tells us:
some queues of tanker trucks have been
reported to extend 2 kilometres.”
Well yes, they’d need to. According to
Ask.com the carrying capacity of tanker trucks ranges from
50-300 barrels of crude. So, even if we assume they are using the
largest capacity trucks available, ISIS would need to be running
between 100 and 400 tankers every day to make the kind of
sums being claimed. If the trucks are smaller we have to double or
even quadruple that number. So, even if we don’t balk at the idea of
a beleaguered terrorist network, warring on several fronts, being
able to pull off something this sophisticated and manpower-heavy,
we’d have to admit traffic jams would be inevitable, especially
along those rugged, mountainous “established trading routes.”
What’s even worse and more difficult to understand
though is that all our efforts to stop them, via airstrikes,
political intervention and border-policing have been almost
completely futile. The Guardian told us in the same article quoted
Coalition air strikes against tankers and
refineries controlled by Isis have merely dented – rather than
halted – these exports….
Patrick Cockburn in the Independent went even further:
The US-led air attacks launched against
Islamic State (also known as Isis) on 8 August in Iraq and 23
September in Syria have not worked. President Obama’s plan to
“degrade and destroy” Islamic State has not even begun to
achieve success. In both Syria and Iraq, Isis is expanding its
control rather than contracting.
This may be connected with the fact the US was
bombing the wrong stuff, according to
These so-called refineries are not a real
target and they do not weaken Islamic State as they do not have
any financial value for them.
Oops. A major goof. Or maybe not? According to
Global Research the US is using questionable claims of ISIS
oil-bootlegging in Syria as an excuse to destroy Syrian
although there have been widespread airstrikes
against oil production in Syria, there have however been exactly
zero strikes against oil production facilities inside of Iraq;
the US is keeping in-tact energy facilities inside of the state
that it has control over, whilst destroying the infrastructure
of Syrian state which it seeks to degrade and destroy. This
two-faced approach is a further attack upon the Syrian
government, eliminating any chance they have of recapturing
their nation’s oil refineries intact.
Is such duplicity on the part of the World’s
Greatest Democracy even possible? Yes, according to Denis Kucinich
Huffington Post, who calls the current bombing campaign an
“attack on Syria, under the guise of striking ISIS.” Regime change
in Syria is indeed an acknowledged goal of the US government, and it
has been straining at the leash to begin bombing missions over
Assad’s oil assets since autumn 2013, when Putin’s intervention “stopped
Obama’s drive for military action…in its tracks.”
Being able to do exactly what they planned back
then while pretending they are just hunting down unstoppably evil
terrorists would be a tempting proposition for the more insane
Washington hawks. And of course we must all remember the previous
blockbusters of similar genre, like Osama Bin Laden’s
Cave of Evil, described so memorably by Donald Rumsfeld…
Bin Laden’s unobtrusive hideaway in Afghanistan,
as brought to us by Rumsfeld and the MSM
Maybe the feverish US claims of mile-long
multi-million-dollar ISIS smuggling convoys that can barely be
“dented” by the most powerful military machine on the planet sound
ridiculous because in large part they are ridiculous? Maybe
the mainstream media should use their resources to examine these
claims rather than simply repeat them?
What, for example, about the “160
computer flash sticks” allegedly “hoovered up” (not literally)
by Iraqi forces after a raid on the “head of the ISIS military
Council” near Mosul? This “treasure trove” being feverishly analysed
by the CIA, we are told…
included names and noms de guerre of all
foreign fighters, senior leaders and their code words, initials
of sources inside ministries and full accounts of the
These finances were not only – of course –
massive, they were also meticulously catalogued on those “flash
sticks” allowing the CIA to know every detail of their income and
investment portfolio. But let’s hear the Guardian in a longer quote
The strategic acumen of Isis was impressive –
so too its attention to detail. “They had itemised everything,”
the source said. “Down to the smallest detail.”
Over the past year, foreign intelligence
officials had learned that Isis secured massive cashflows from
the oilfields of eastern Syria, which it had commandeered in
late 2012, and some of which it had sold back to the Syrian
regime. It was also known to have reaped windfalls from
smuggling all manner of raw materials pillaged from the
crumbling state, as well as priceless antiquities from
But here before them in extraordinary detail
were accounts that would have breezed past forensic accountants,
giving a full reckoning of a war effort.
It soon became clear that in less than three
years, Isis had grown from a ragtag band of extremists to
perhaps the most cash-rich and capable terror group in the
They had taken $36m from al-Nabuk
alone [an area in the Qalamoun mountains west of
Damascus]. The antiquities there are up to 8,000 years old,” the
intelligence official said.
The Graun of course is suitably uncritical and
open-mouthed at the Indiana Jones awesomeness of it all,
but some might think there are a few points in here that require a
little more development. The alleged oil-smuggling is old news, but
now we have alleged antiquity-bootlegging too. And on a similarly
epic scale, requiring more logistics, more trucks (unless they just
pile the antiquities in with the oil?), more manpower. And
presumably also a few people able to identify a priceless artefact
when they see one.
And given the fact that black market traders in
barely make 1-2% of the commercial value for the artefacts they
sell, for ISIS to have raked in “$36 MILLION from “Al Nabuk alone”,
the antiquities they stole would have to carry a commercial value of
at least $1.8 BILLION, equal in value to the entire
contents of many museums and art collections.
I suggest this is unlikely to be the case. And
that either the unnamed intelligence officer was mistaken, making
the whole thing up, or ISIS are getting help selling their loot from
some very well-connected people who know how to strike good deals.
And come to that – where does ISIS have its $2
billion or whatever figure we are now using? The Guardian story
about analysing the “meticulous” accounts of their income on the
“flash sticks” implies they have bank accounts, details of which
were on those sticks. If so, where are these accounts? Why can’t we
find them and disable them, seize the contents? If their wealth
isn’t in a bank, where is it? Are they carrying $2billion in cash?
Have they put it in their ISIS bank along with their ISIS currency?
(Remember that? it seems to have faded, as being maybe just a step
too far into lunacy). Why are ISIS as financially invulnerable as
they are militarily?
Are we really sure, given all this, that ISIS are
these super-rich demonic bad guys as portrayed and not just an ad
hoc collection of zealots, opportunists and lunatics, tooling round
the desert in matching cars, filming themselves doing vile things,
and being protected by Uncle Sam for reasons of its own?
Well the mainstream media are pretty convinced.
I’m not sure I am though.
But at least the astronomical and un-interrogated
millions found so handily on those “flash-sticks” allowed for some
easy one-stop explanations of a few things. To quote Anonymous
Intelligence Source again:
Before this, the western officials had been
asking us where they had gotten some of their money from,
$50,000 here, or $20,000 there. It was peanuts. Now they know
and we know. They had done this all themselves. There
was no state actor at all behind them, which we had
long known. They don’t need one.
Phew, well there you are then. It’s just ISIS, the
multi-billionaire terrorist network and oil empire, branching out
into another area of profitable trading. No “state actor” behind
them. Nothing more to see here. Thanks for the clarification,
Anonymous Intelligence Source.
Maybe it was the growing implausibility of the
narrative of ISIS as COBRA that led to it being quietly pushed on
the back burner for the moment, and maybe it was in an attempt to
reset the paradigm that the Wall Street Journal in a paywalled
article from September 16
decided to take the story in a low-tech, low-key,
bare bones direction
The Islamic State is funding its rapid push
into Syria and Iraq with a labyrinthine oil-smuggling operation
that starts at seized Syrian oil fields, goes through makeshift
refineries and can end up in jerrycans carried by mules into the
hilly borderland of Turkey
Yes, you did read correctly. That word is “mules.”
The Wall Street Journal is telling us ISIS is making its $1 million
(or two or three or six million) a day by smuggling crude oil in
jerrycans. Carried by mules.
Assuming two barrels per mule, that’s anything
from 10,000 – 100,000 mules a day.
I think we should just leave it there.